Sex and workplace CT: TV legend Charlie Rose latest to fall on sexual harassment thorn

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WASHINGTON: Yet another American icon has been felled by allegations of predatory sexual behavior amid ceaseless exposure in the US of older dominant males taking advantage of young women at workplace.

Charlie Rose, a 75-year-old broadcasting legend, is the latest in the “A” list of sexual predators that now includes entertainment czars Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, and Democratic Senator Al Franken. After prominent US newspapers, including Washington Post and New York Times, published graphic accounts from women who were subjected to gross sexual overtures by Rose, two media platforms that he was most prominent on canned him: CBS suspended him from its morning program and PBS announced that it would no longer distribute his long-running nightly interview show.

Rose effectively acknowledged his mistakes and apologized, although he said not all allegations were accurate. “It is essential that these women know I hear them and that I deeply apologize for my inappropriate behavior. I am greatly embarrassed. I have behaved insensitively at times, and I accept responsibility for that,” he said in a statement. “I always felt that I was pursuing shared feelings, even though I now realize I was mistaken.”

Rose is one of the most respected media personalities in the US. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram are among those who have appeared on his eponymous PBS show in which he interviews newsmakers and public intellectuals.

But beneath the poise and the gravitas that earned him a formidable reputation and a clutch of media awards lurked what several women said was a gross and pathetic sexual predator who preyed on interns and co-workers, inviting them to his various homes for work and then pawing them and exposing himself to them.

In all, thirteen women have come forward so far with such claims. They were all between 21 and 37 at the time of the alleged misconduct and worked for the legendary television host, whose reputation for surrounding himself with young women gave them the collective nickname “Charlie’s Angels” after a well-known TV serial.

Rose’s fall prompted headlines and memes ranging from “Charlie Gross” to references to thorns and pricks, but it essentially carried forward a season of national naming and shaming of what is a poorly-kept secret at work places in the US and across the world. Older men in authority often times take advantage of younger women who are vulnerable or dependent on them for career advancement. Many of them kid or comfort themselves that it is consensual.

The malaise cuts across political divide. After being at the receiving end of such charges, including some involving President Trump, conservatives and rightwing activists are rejoicing this week that similar allegations have torched liberals such as former comedian and Minnesota senator Al Franken and Charlie Rose. Even the New York Times, which has reported extensively on the epidemic, has not been immune. One of its own reporters, Glenn Thrush, was suspended from covering the White House on Monday, after a website published a story in which young female journalists accused him of sexual misconduct.

 

“The behavior attributed to Glenn in this Vox story is very concerning and not in keeping with the standards and values of The New York Times,” the paper said in a statement on Monday. “We intend to fully investigate and while we do, Glenn will be suspended.”

On his part, Thrush apologized to “any woman who felt uncomfortable in my presence, and for any situation where I behaved inappropriately,” adding, “Any behavior that makes a woman feel disrespected or uncomfortable is unacceptable.”

Rose’s contrition was very similar. “I have learned a great deal as a result of these events, and I hope others will too. All of us, including me, are coming to a newer and deeper recognition of the pain caused by conduct in the past, and have come to a profound new respect for women and their lives,” he said.